Potentially the biggest step in your legal career when striving to become a solicitor is the final stretch; completing your training contract.
Nick Cowley, who works on our personal injury team officially entered the roll in July 2020. We spoke to him to find out more about his journey into law and his next steps as a fully qualified solicitor.
Congratulations on qualifying! How did you celebrate?
I held a BBQ in my garden on the Saturday after I qualified to celebrate my success with my family, who have supported me throughout my training.
What are you most looking forward to now you have qualified?
Now that I’m qualified, I am looking forward to continuing to provide quality customer service whilst also expanding my legal knowledge and expertise.
What challenges did you face during your training contract?
Gaining a training contract with a firm is extremely competitive, especially at a firm such as Hampson Hughes which is consistently striving for excellence. It was not an easy process as there have previously been a number of trainee solicitors of a high standard. I am extremely proud to have achieved my goal and very excited for what the future has in store for me at Hampson Hughes.
Why did you choose Hampson Hughes to complete your training contract?
I worked at Hampson Hughes for around 18 months before being offered a training contract. The team here are extremely experienced, high calibre solicitors, so it felt amazing to be able to learn directly from them and be offered the chance to join their ranks as a fully-qualified solicitor.
Prior to receiving a training contract, and during my training period, I worked with a number of teams across different service areas in the firm. This has helped me to develop and expand my knowledge and definitely reinforced my desire to stay with Hampson Hughes.
What’s your greatest achievement (to date!) at Hampson Hughes?
I believe my greatest achievement has been gaining the trust of the firm in allowing me to run my own caseload with a number of strong results. I settled one case in excess of £20,000, which I was particularly proud of. The client was very happy with the outcome and brought in a card and present for me to show her appreciation for the work I had done.
I love supporting clients to get the results they deserve, and the satisfaction of securing them the highest possible outcome is the best reward. But, it was great to get direct positive feedback from my client too!
Finally, what piece of advice would you give to aspiring solicitors?
The best advice I can give is to never give up. The journey might not always be smooth-sailing, but anything worth having generally isn’t! Have faith in yourself and your abilities.
Want to find out more about our team? Check out our blogs for the latest from our staff whether they’re writing about ongoing cases, or sharing advice to those aspiring to begin a legal career.
The Government needs to do more to support cancer patients as the UK heads towards a major cancer crisis.
BBC Panorama has unveiled shocking figures showing the devastating impact the Coronavirus pandemic has had on cancer patients. Now is the time for the Government to take urgent action to ensure the NHS has what it needs to catch up with the enormous backlog of work created as a direct result of the pandemic.
Since the start of lockdown, there has been major disruption for cancer patients at every level. Vital surgeries and treatments have been cancelled; life-saving drug trials have been put on hold; routine screenings have been delayed; and more and more people are ignoring worrying symptoms due to fears of attending GP surgeries or A&E departments.
Early diagnosis is vital in the fight against cancer. The earlier it is detected, the significantly higher the chance of survival. As Sara Hiom, Director of Information at Cancer Research UK, outlined in BBC Panorama, detecting bowel cancer at stage 1 has a 90% survival rate. If it is not detected until stage 4, the survival rate tragically reduces to 10%. This highlights just how vital it is for early diagnosis and treatment. In many cases, it really is a matter of life or death.
HOW HAS CORONAVIRUS IMPACTED CANCER DIAGNOSIS?
Following Government guidance in March, an estimated two million screenings were delayed. This will have resulted in thousands of cancer patients missing the opportunity to be diagnosed as early as possible.
Guidelines put in place to avoid overwhelming the NHS and fears of being exposed to the virus have also meant those who would have previously sought medical help for symptoms have avoided GP surgeries and A&E departments.
At the peak of the pandemic, the number of cancer referrals went down by two-thirds, and attendance at A&E departments, which usually spot 1 in 10 cancers, were half of what they were the year before. The stats unveiled by BBC Panorama show that although figures are increasing, they are still far off pre-Covid levels.
In some of the most worrying cases, those who did attend A&E found resources were stretched and, despite voicing their concerns, they were faced with long waits for potentially life-saving scans.
One such patient was Sherwin Hall who began seeking help in March and attended A&E 13 times. His pain, however, was misdiagnosed repeatedly and he had to wait months for a scan due to the suspension of many NHS services. He believes that if doctors had found his cancer earlier, it would have made a big difference to his prognosis. The scan revealed that Mr Hall had a tumour measuring 14cm in his pelvis and 30 small tumours in his lungs. He believes these developed during the time he could not get a scan.
We are starting to see a growing numbers of cases like Mr Hall’s emerging, in which patients are at risk from life-threatening illnesses because they missed out on diagnostic tests or surgery while hospitals were concentrating on treating Covid-19 patients.
HOW HAS CORONAVIRUS IMPACTED EXISTING CANCER PATIENTS?
In March, the UK Government made widespread reforms on how NHS staff and facilities were to be deployed based on its predictions that there would be an unprecedented demand for ICU facilities. These included nearly half of all current clinical cancer trials being put on hold and life-saving treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, halted for thousands of patients across the country.
Fortunately, the Government’s initial predictions were over-estimated, and many of the emergency Nightingale hospitals constructed were never used.
In many cases however, the reforms have had devastating consequences for cancer patients. One young mother, Kelly Smith, tragically died after her chemotherapy was delayed at the beginning of lockdown. She had been living with the disease for three and half years and reported to BBC Panorama about how angry she felt that her treatment, which she believed had been working, was put on hold.
Government guidelines also stated radiotherapy should be delayed and avoided in some circumstances, which clinical oncologist Prof Pat Price highlighted was a “very high risk strategy.” It meant there were radiotherapy machines in some hospitals “lying idle which could have saved lives.”
A further major concern is the number of private hospitals not being utilised to their full capacity. At the height of the pandemic, there were vacant beds and empty diagnostic suites which could have provided life-saving diagnostics and treatment for thousands of patients. The use of these facilities is increasing, but the failure to utilise these private hospitals earlier may have had devastating and far reaching consequences.
There are now growing demands to know how NHS services will be able to cope with, and catch up with, the enormous backlog of diagnostics, and cancer patients rightly want answers about why their treatments or trials were stopped and when they will be resumed. NHS England has said it is working hard to restore services and expects to get back to where it needs to be by the end of the year.
In the meantime, the Government needs to provide urgent support to non Covid-19 patients or risk avoidable harm to thousands. AvMA Chief Executive Peter Walsh recently warned that “many NHS hospitals are running at 60% capacity or less, with Nightingale hospitals standing empty and the private sector capacity unused.” Now is the time to ensure this capacity is being utilised to the full to help control what could turn into a major UK cancer crisis.